A Gilroy woman and her father are accused of embezzling more than $1 million from a law firm where the woman worked as an office manager, according to authorities.
Johnell Alva, 35, of Gilroy, will be arraigned this afternoon, says a press release from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. Alva allegedly employed a variety of schemes to steal money from the law firm, which has offices in Campbell and Newport Beach.
Alva is accused of giving herself unauthorized pay raises and a salary of $418,951, authorities said. She issued checks from the law firm to pay off her personal credit cards and used the firm’s credit card to pay for her purchases from amazon.com and Tiffany & Co.
She also paid her father, Juan Alva, 60, of Sunnyvale, a salary of $13,800 even though he did not work for the firm, authorities said. Furthermore, Johnell Alva is accused of issuing checks from the law firm to J & J Construction, Inc., which she and her father own. The checks to the construction company were issued between 2016 to 2019.
The Alvas and J & J Construction will be charged with grand theft, receipt of stolen property and conspiracy to defraud, according to the DA’s office. Johnell Alva’s arraignment is scheduled for 1:30pm Nov. 20 at the San Jose Hall of Justice.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 12 years in prison.
“Busy professionals often trust their long-time employees to run the office with little oversight,” prosecutor Daniel Kassabian said. “Those employees must be held accountable when they violate that trust.”
The law firm discovered the theft when a CPA was preparing the firm’s tax returns and noticed that Johnell Alva was being paid an annual salary of $300,000 as the office manager. That news came as a surprise to the law firm’s owner, who reported the misconduct to the Campbell Police Department.
Officers worked with the DA’s office to determine the full extent of the theft by further investigating the Alvas’ financials and other accounts, authorities said.